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Mar 2013 When a patient needs a stem cell transplant, the physician's goal is to find donor stem cells that match the patient's Human Leukocyte Antigens, also known as HLA type. The ideal donor is a sibling who is an exact match, but only about 30% of patients can find a matching donor in their family. The next best thing is a matching unrelated donor (MUD) of bone marrow. But here too, not all patients can find a match. It is especially difficult for patients of African descent or mixed ancestry to find matching bone marrow donors. At this point, the next step is to look for a cord blood donation that is a close enough match.
Feb 2013 Many parents elect to save their newborn infant's umbilical cord blood in either a public cord blood bank that accepts free donations or a family cord blood bank that charges for private storage. Typically the first step towards banking cord blood is when the mother receives a collection kit that she must safeguard and have ready at the time of birth. This article explains the contents of collection kits and gives parents advice on how to keep them safe.
Feb 2013 Hearing those words from a doctor's mouth is completely devastating and immobilizing, often spurring the feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, fear and helplessness. Those words are spoken far too often. Every 15 minutes, a child is born with a congenital heart defect (1). Despite the prevalence of congenital heart defects, public awareness and funding for research remains dismal. With a lack of resources and research, parents facing new diagnoses are often left in the dark, with little hope from even the medical community at large. In December of 2010, ten women came together to change that stigma - to offer hope in the midst of darkness.
Feb 2013 Heart and vascular disease (or cardiovascular disease, CVD) are the leading causes of death and disability in the world, despite a large proportion of it being preventable. In the US alone, 82.6 million Americans have some form of CVD. Someone dies from CVD every 33 seconds. More than 40,000 children are born each year with a congenital heart defect.
Jan 2013 Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases affecting humans - the WHO estimates that around 350 million people have diabetes globally. Approximately 10% have type 1 diabetes - a disease that is often diagnosed during childhood or adolescence. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not make enough of the hormone insulin that keeps blood sugar levels in the normal range. People with type 1 diabetes must frequently take finger prick tests of their blood sugar level and receive multiple daily injections of insulin or wear an implanted insulin pump. While the cause of type 1 diabetes is not fully understood, the immune system plays a major role in causing the damage to the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. There is currently no prevention or cure for type 1 diabetes - but stem cells may be a promising new approach.
Jan 2013 Imagine this scenario. I have a closed box. It contains something very precious! It may change - strike that - it may save your child's life! I will take care of the box for as long as you want, for a fee. You just tell me when you need it. If you decide later that you don't want me to store the box any longer then you can walk away at any time. You might think "this sounds pretty great! But how do I really know that what I am paying for will do what you say? It sure would be better if I had something to give me more confidence". For all its wonderful prospects and demonstrated ability to save the lives of people with blood cancers and other diseases of the bone marrow, this is essentially the conundrum of private cord blood (CB) banking.
Dec 2012 It seems that everything in our world is changing. It is a sunny day, the temperature outside is 80°F in December in America's heartland, a nine-year-old girl is visiting the doctor because she is developing breasts, and I had a meeting with a 54-year-old woman who wants to have a child. It seems that the physical world and the biological world are transforming almost before our eyes. Over the last hundred years we have seen the life expectancy of a woman double, going from 40 years to over 80 years. As a result our society is changing. Our young girls grow up and dream of having "it all": an education, a satisfying career, and a family exactly when they are ready. Unfortunately some things don't change quite as quickly.
Dec 2012 My daughters and I bring you "Season's Greetings" from the Parent's Guide to Cord Blood Foundation.We recently reviewed some of the demographics of our outreach: Only 65% of the readers of our website are in the United Sates. Our second biggest source of readers is India, which edged out Canada for the number two spot in 2010. Most readers, 89%, rely on English as their language, despite the ability to use a Google translate button for our web pages. About 70% of our readers are new each month, typically expectant parents who have decided they need to find out why their baby's cord blood is important, and what are their options?
Dec 2012 Umbilical cord blood is a great source of young blood-forming stem cells (called hematopoietic stem cells or HSCs). Currently, stem cells from cord blood are used in the treatment of a host of blood-related diseases. However, a major drawback of cord blood transplants is the limited volume of blood that can be collected from a single umbilical cord. Consequently, a limited number of stem cells can be derived from a single cord blood collection. Transplants are more successful with a higher cell dose, hence numerous methods are currently under investigation to increase the efficiency of cord blood transplants, including ex vivo expansion of the hematopoietic stem cells before transplant, increasing the homing of hematopoietic stem cells to the patient's bone marrow, direct injections into the patient's femoral bone, and transplants with multiple cord blood units. A more straightforward method is to utilize another stem cell population - mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) - for co-transplantation with a cord blood unit.